Srinagar-Leh national highway widened for T-72 tanks

Against the backdrop of heightened Chinese activity along the Ladakh border, the Srinagar-Leh national highway has been widened to allow passage of T-72 tanks.

Updated: May 02, 2011, 19:02 PM IST

Zojila: Against the backdrop of
heightened Chinese activity along the Ladakh border, the
Srinagar-Leh national highway has been widened to allow
passage of T-72 tanks.

A senior army commander said it was part of efforts to
improve the infrastructure and resources for enhancing the
capability of the army.

"Last year, an effort was made to see if we can bring
in more tanks into this area. Any military force always looks
at how to improve its infrastructure, which improves its
capabilities," General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based
Chinar Corps Lieutenant General S A Hasnain told reporters.

"From a military angle, if you find the resources in
the areas opposite to you increase and the military capability
enhances, it is always a case of worry for you. Therefore, you
have to re-analyse your own resources, your own capabilities,"
he said.

The widening of the Srinagar-Leh road, which passes
through Zojila pass at an altitude of 11,500 feet, has been
done to facilitate the passage of T-72 tanks following several
reports of Chinese incursions into Ladakh region over the past
few years.

The widening work on the pass was carried out by the
32 Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) and 122 RCC.

Hasnain was talking to reporters here, 120 kms from
Srinagar, on the opening of the 434-km strategic Srinagar-Leh
national highway, which was closed for five months due to
heavy snowfall.

He said it (use of T-72) has been a requirement for
many years in Ladakh region due to the flatness of the
terrain.

"You can utilise mechanised elements here (in Ladakh)
but bringing in mechanised elements by air has been a major
problem in the earlier years," he said.

Army currently operates Russian-made T-72 tank fleet,
which has undergone an upgradation to equip it with thermal
imaging capabilities to its night-vision system.

On the increased Chinese presence in Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir, he said it had nothing to do with any particular
country but admitted that it should be a cause of concern.

Terming the road as strategically important, Hasnain
said there have always been efforts to reopen the road after
winter as early as possible.

The army commander said he was hopeful that the
highway will become an all-weather road in near future.

"A feasibility study is being conducted for
constructing a tunnel between Srinagar side and Gumri. The
study shall be completed in 2012," he said.

Lt Gen Hasnain said Ladakh generally faces logistic
problems during winter and excessive stocking has to be
undertaken.

PTI